Jackie Coogan: Originally starred in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid. Parents would drug him to wake up and go to the studio, then drug him later to go to sleep. Parents eventually took off with his fortune. Later grew up to be Uncle Fester in The Addams Family.
Elizabeth Taylor: Not enough time to go into here – adorable star of National Velvet went on to get married 7 times, including one wedding at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Addictions to painkillers, many.
Drew Barrymore: wrote a fantastically trashy autobiography Little Girl Lost about her partying at 9, addiction to pot and cocaine as a 10-year old kid, and rehab at 13. Nuff said.
Jodie Foster: This kid didn’t do too badly actually. Took on a number of sexually precocious roles eg Iris in Taxi Driver, which inspired John Hinckley Jr to try and assassinate Ronald Reagan. Brainy enough to leave showbiz for a while to get an education (rare).
Brooke Shields: See above. Typecast for a while as Lolita-type, including a role in Pretty Baby as a child prostitute. Had nude photos of her as a 10-year old exhibited. Known for her eyebrows more than acting.
Lindsay Lohan: Although she acts like a typical 19/20-year old on the pull, her antics are more extreme and well-documented than most. Currently in AA.
Dakota Fanning: About to star in a film about a kid who gets raped. Apparently it’s filmed ‘tastefully’, whatever that means. Keep watching for subsequent tell-all book/miniseries/Barbara Walters special when she’s older.
And I haven’t even discussed Macauley Culkin, Linda Blair, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, the two Coreys and the entire cast of ‘Diff’rent Strokes.
THIS LIST IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG. Child stars, in general, have a rough time of it. Their crazed parents have some notion that their kids want to be a ‘star’, and will subject them to casting calls, long work hours, public scrutiny and god knows what else. Little kids, people! For what do they need a career? At eight! Or younger!
The best thing about being a kid is that you’re quite unaware of what you look like, unaware of most of the shit that flies out of your mouth and unaware of how your choices will make any difference down the track. In many ways, kids are quite unselfconscious – it’s brilliant. It’s probably the only time in your life when you feel this way (although I plan to be thus on the run-up to 60). Parents that encourage their kid to be a ‘star’ – purely to entertain complete strangers – have taken all that away from them.
When my old man was in advertising, my sisters and I used to pester him to be in one of his ads. Neither of my parents caved in, we couldn’t believe it. Dad would always roar terrifyingly at the suggestion, saying that his workmates’ kids had appeared in some ads, and they were ‘vile, precocious little turds’ (possible misquote here). We wept and begged, to no avail. Now I see some reason in their weird parental logic.
As for la belle Bindi, well of course she wants to ‘entertain’. Of course she wants to be famous and appear on MTV. What kid wouldn’t? Think of the attention! She doesn’t know anything else – she’s been shown no other example by her family. And no amount of counselling or asking her if it’s really what she wants to do will convince her otherwise. She’s not yet old enough to look at her options and consider what she wants to do with her life. Does anyone, at 8?